DISCLAIMER. While writing this handbook, we were inspired by (and sometimes we hands down stole from) authors who, in one way or another, have contributed to shaping our ideas on how to build a great place to work: Frederic Laloux, Simon Sinek, Tony Hsieh, Reed Hastings, Ray Dalio, Francesco Mondora, Linda Leonard, Jean Bolen, and Evgeny Morozov, among others.
If everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing
Malcolm Gladwell, What the dog saw.
This handbook is a guide for everyone, new hires and veterans alike, so that in the whirlwind of the daily things we do, we never lose our long-term focus on building a great place to work. Additionally, this document aims to regulate work-life, set behavioral standards, and describe our corporate aspirations.
This internal list of goals, ideas, and rules is a founding element of our corporate vision. However, it also aims to represent all the people working in Veos Digital and regulate the issues that could arise.
Far from being in its ultimate form, this document is born ready to be modified. Today, we write to crystallize our initial drive toward building a great place to work. Then, this document will let the people who will become part of our community get to know these principles and integrate their ideas with ours, and together rewrite it in better versions.
Veos Digital aims to create a virtuous cycle involving business, software development, and fundamental research. As part of Veos Group, we intend to develop sustainable technologies from environmental and ethical viewpoints. We mainly focus on developing explainable artificial intelligence systems that can learn from small data sets and learn with minimal resources.
Concretely, we wish to:
- Create sustainable, controllable, and explainable (learning) software.
- Integrate these algorithms into our products and suggest them as alternative solutions to companies and foundations operating in the field of technology, science, industry, economics, and finance.
- Help other companies and entities in adopting such innovative technologies and methods.
We founded Veos Digital in 2020. It is a research-based software development and advisory company. We develop algorithms in full generality so that we can quickly apply them in real-world scenarios. We design and customize our products to ensure not only flexibility but also robustness and guarantee their effectiveness. We then provide scientific and business training to facilitate the integration of original algorithms in the business process.
We mainly interact with other companies following an advisory model. We aim to establish long-lasting relationships allowing for mutual growth and leveraging real needs to progress scientifically.
We investigate original solutions leveraging creativity. For this reason, we build teams composed of people with a diverse set of skills at their disposal. Indeed, we believe that while someone’s background can give hints about the evolution of their interests, it does not define their skills, potential, and will.
Our Work Happiness Framework
Currently, our society revolves around Work, and if it is reasonable to think that one’s goal in life is to be happy, then we need to make our workplace happy. For this reason, we continuously strive towards creating a Work Happiness Framework.
In our opinion, meaningful relationships built in the workplace can radically and positively impact work and life quality.
Our main office is located in [Milan, via Gustavo Fara 20](https://goo.gl/maps/vvLHZZYYG5hWrWVV9). It comprises two meeting rooms and two main rooms, occupied by the management, development, and research teams. Next door is the offices of other companies in Veos Group. This arrangement naturally creates synergy among the Veos Group’s companies and already gave rise to several internal collaborations.
Small restaurants and cafes dot the office’s neighborhood. We encourage people in the office to take breaks together. In the office, a kitchen is still not available. However, a microwave, a kettle, and a coffee machine are, as well as coffee, tea, and tisanes.
We also encourage eco-friendly commuting. Public transports connect our office to Milan and nearby areas, and we regularly update our internal car-pooling opportunities.
Occasionally, we take one day to work together from a different place than the office: a house on one of the nearby lakes or a lodge in the mountains. Furthermore, some colleagues organized office-areas at their home and are ready to share them.
Life in the office
Offices are not places where to spend some hours alone facing a screen but to join others, create ideasin collaboration, share your knowledge, learn new concepts, discuss and get ownership and conscience of the Work devised as a team.
Weekly, we host the central meeting in which a colleague gives a short talk about a relevant topic for the company’s activity. Each department (research, development, and business) also organizes internal meetings, discusses new technologies and methods, and keepsthe team aligned with the department’s overarching goal. During these meetings, we celebrate milestones reached by the team and offer help and advice.
Although there will always be someone you can ask when facing complex professional issues, we do not believe in stiff hierarchical structures. You should feel free to address everybody, from your desk-neighbor to the CEO.
We use a collection of tools to keep in contact and document our activities.
- Mattermost is an open-source chat service that we use to exchange short messages and occasionally manage communications with partners and customers.
- Email. We still use the old-fashioned email to send official communications.
- Clockifyis a simple tool to keep track of the time spent on specific tasks.
- Notion allows keeping track (and a record) of progresses in a collaborative, real-time manner.
We organize weekly outings to get to know each other better or talk about the chief systems. Sometimes beer hour lasts for way more than one hour only 🙂
We are focused on eliminating micromanagement from our daily Work. While the team is responsible for deciding which work lines are the most promising in realizing a project or designing a product, you will make your own decisions regarding your job.
Work From Home
We give the opportunity and encourage home-working and decentralized private offices, where small groups of people can work together and grow as professional teams. People that prefer to come to the office are free and welcome to do so. We invite new people to go to the office most days, get acquainted with the environment, and develop the needed skills to work autonomously.
When working remotely, we keep in touch through a software suite (e.g., Mattermost, Meet, emails).
How many hours should I work?
We do not expect anyone to follow a 9 am-6 pm working schedule. Working hours are very flexible: you should work around 40 hours per week, but you choose how to manage them during your week. Some projects could need to follow a more structured schedule. If a project requires a standard time-plan, it will be communicated and discussed in advance, ensuring that every team member agrees on the agenda.
On what will I work?
Veos Digital works to bring innovative and creative solutions to the market. A micro-management-driven approach would hinder the achievement of this goal. For this reason, your skills and inclinations and your current interests will be taken into account when deciding which team(s) you will join or on which projects you will work.
If you have ideas, intuitions, or specific projects you would like to pursue, we invite you to share them with your team, colleagues, and without hesitation with C-level colleagues.
Technologies, on your work device and in your project
In addition to independently choosing the programs and your workstation’s operating system, you and your team will choose the application stack of the projects you will develop.
Work termination – what if I want to leave?
The termination notice must be in writing and signed, following the termination notice periods outlined in the C.C.N.L. COMMERCIO. The termination notice period starts from the middle or end of each month. Suppose one party terminates the contract without following the termination notice period rules correctly or without giving notice. In that case, that party will have to pay for the remainder of the termination time.
Once you have handed in your termination notice, you shall gradually decrease your workload until the day you leave. During this time, you should ensure you close all open activities or pass them on to a colleague. You will no longer accept new projects or work fully on current projects. This way, nothing is left unfinished, and a colleague can easily continue your Work.
Following the Italian law, during the first six months of your time with us (trial period), both you and Veos Digital are free to terminate your contract with a one day notice.
In a happy working environment, it is necessary to provide people with substantial support without interfering with their autonomous decision processes, making it possible to grow for each individual and our company as a collective.
Servant Leadership & Governance meeting
Once a month, we organize a servant leadership meeting that everybody can attend. Its aim is the identification of possible issues and consequent solutions. The main idea is to avoid blaming individuals for failures and modify the company’s environment to create a welcoming workplace. For instance, if a lack of a particular skill is causing friction in a team, it is possible to organize a course to address that specific issue and integrate the missing craft.
What if I fail?
As our claim should suggest, when seeking bold solutions, one should better not be afraid of failures. We encourage you to try and fail and celebrate that failure. We even celebrate failures and have a party occasionally.
Bet on your ideas
Once a year, we ask all the people who work at Veos Digital to compile a short report to describe the successful, unsuccessful, and still in progress projects, ideas, or changes they promoted (bet on). Who is willing to do so can then discuss their bet in small groups. This process’s gist is to recall that we aim to look for and realize original, daring ideas, independently of one’s role. Hopefully, this game will promote the idea that betting on bold ideas is not a matter of individual successes and failures but rather a collective learning process.
Bachelors, Masters, PhDs, and Training
If, after joining Veos Digital, you are willing to continue your studies, please say it out loud. We will find a way to allow you to do it.
Additionally, internal courses are regularly organized spontaneously or on request. A colleague generally teaches these courses, but we will willingly invite external speakers if they are needed.
We promote and reward internal and external training. In the Monday meetings, small talks are the instrument of choice we use to allow new ideas and recent achievements.
A robust and functional team is needed to achieve success and do so in a harmonic way. A team is built by individuals who take responsibility for acquiring and maintaining professional competence. Each individual shall set professional standards and strive to achieve them. In this process, although individual will and determination are required, nobody is left alone. We encourage independent study and support it by organizing internal seminars, promoting conferences or courses.
Veos Digital Library
We have an internal system in which those who want can list their books, accompanied by a review, to be made available for other people who want to borrow them.
We believe that motivation stems from within. Although money is necessary, we wish to find meaning elsewhere.
From good to great
A good company makes money. We believe that great companies (also great to live in) are such because their focus is beyond money or pure business. They understand the role of aesthetics over pragmatism, invest their time in answering internal drives and external opportunities. Free play and fundamental research allow them to materialize abstractions and apply them in the real world.
Developing your ideas
You can devote 10% of your time to develop and materialize your project, individually or as part of a group. Once it reaches a stable state, you shall discuss your pet-project with colleagues who were not involved in it. We are aware that free-playing allows one to find otherwise invisible solutions. Consequently, such personal projects have the potential to become central to our company.
Quality of Work
We expect members of our community to be fully capable of self-assessment and conscious of the impact of a fair self-evaluation as a way to actively care for themselves and, most importantly, for the community. For this reason, we assume that each person takes responsibility for the Quality of their work, striving to achieve the highest possible standards.
When designing a new product, facing a new client, or writing code, peer-review is one of the most effective ways to maintain high-quality standards. When appropriate, you should ask your colleagues to help you review your Work and be ready to do the same with theirs.
Code of Conduct
Broad-mindedness, impartiality, and tolerance stand as fundamental principles of our
company. We are committed to making Life in our company and community free of harassment for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, disability, gender identity and expression, appearance, sexual identity and orientation, nationality, race, religion, and level of experience.
We aim to create a positive and inclusive work environment. In this prospect, we encourage the adoption of the following behavioral guidelines.
Use inclusive and accepting language for it is the base for healthy and grounded collaborations and any relationship established in a work environment.
The ability to accept constructive criticism is essential to foster a positive and open working environment. At the same time, criticism shall be spoken appropriately and constructively, to improve others’ work and state.
Our company does not have an ombudsperson yet. In the case of conflict, we invite our collaborators to contact any member of the company’s management. They will either directly act as mediators or involve an external one.
In our experience, successful collaborations are the ones characterized by an underlying empathy between the parts.
Leadership and mentoring
We believe in servant leadership principles. Managers are facilitators who can decentralize tasks and powers, leverage their skills to empower their co-workers, and create achievable yet challenging reward plans.
The following behaviors are unacceptable:
1. The usage of any form of sexualized language or content and any unwelcome sexual attention
2. Personal or political attacks
3. Demeaning or insulting comments
4. Any form of harassment
5. Divulgation of others’ private information in any way, without prior, explicit permission
6. Any conduct which reasonably identifies as inappropriate in a professional setting
The management’s responsibility is to delineate and clarify accepted behaviors and take appropriate actions if any undesired behavior is performed.
These guidelines apply both internally to the company and externally when a person represents the company (e.g., using the official email address, posting via an official social media account, or participating as a representative member of the company at any event).
You should report the occurrence of any unacceptable behavior by contacting [this email]. All communications will be reviewed and investigated. A mediator will contact the sender to agree on a safe modality to tackle the issue (e.g., guaranteeing their anonymity or contacting external mediators).
Anyone not following or enforcing this Code of Conduct may face temporary or permanent repercussions.